Self Conscious, the J Eric Miller blog

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Adultery. Whatever Will Be Will Be. Lucky Penny. You Can Stick Your Little Pins in the Voodoo Doll. Idiot American. Means Nothing.

--K tells me she “met someone”.
This was while she was on a trip.
Who can blame her?

Her husband hasn’t slept with her or seemed to want to in two years.

Of course she is going to meet someone. Over and over.
Until she learns what she is trying to teach herself.

Until she stops being where she doesn’t want to be.

--When a girl who has a boy starts cheating usually it is a transition strategy for ending the relationship.

When a boy who has a girl starts cheating he just wants to have his cake and eat another one too.

--This theory that things will work themselves out.

“If it’s meant to be, it will be.”

That supposes a meaner—someone or thing who means—and I guess most people would say their prime meaner is some god or another.

So when you speak that way about relationships, don’t you suggest a more Classical vision of not a god but gods, where Eros and Aphrodite take special interest in affairs of the heart, where designs are laid and followed and what is meant to be might very well be?

Oddly, most people who say that are Christian.
But I have a hard time finding a Biblical backing for the idea that God weaves plans of seduction and marriage.

It’s just what people say.
We say it, Christian and Greek and etc, so that we don’t have to think about what we must try to do, what we must risk, to make be what may not be.

So that when it is not, we can say: It wasn’t meant to be.

--Deboarding the plane, Atlanta again, I see a penny on the seat of the man who sat in front of me. My impulse is to pick it up but my pride is such that I don’t want anybody to see me do that.

Even though it is a penny.

And so it haunts me all down the walkway, all the way to the train and through the tunnels, this penny, sitting on the seat, my broken ritual of pennies found.

--And I’m not superstitious.

Although I heard of a woman in LA who kept an effigy hanging of me in her room and that bothered me to no end.

I didn’t even know there wasn’t peace between us but when that rumor reached me I tried to make the peace.
Perhaps I did.

Eventually, she gave me a concussion in Las Vegas, but that’s another story.

--I hate traveling. Don’t like the planes and the people on the planes fighting for their space and the airline attendants trying so hard to be snappy and clever and the pilot who always says things like “It’s a short two hours and twenty minutes” and tells you as you land about the weather.

I’ve flown too much.
Too many trips back from Colorado.
Too many times to Beirut and back.

None of this is good for a person like me. If I had the energy, I’d try to say what that was, a person like me. But fill in the blanks.

--In any case, I may not like to travel, but at heart, I’m still American.
Wherever I am, I want often to be elsewhere.
I still imagine New Canaan over the next horizon; that somewhere not here things are better.

Are good.
Are pure.

That there is some place to be where I will not even be me fully.

I don’ t like to travel, but I’m still restless as hell.

And other contradictions.

--That’s not really American.

In fact, all the things the people of the world want to heap on American are not really American. What is hated in the American character is not American character but the character of all humans.

We’re just the product of prosperity and power and luck.
Any country that experienced those things to the extant that we have would end up like us.

What we are, we’re just the natural end of common human aspirations, we’re just human desire taken to an almost absurd end.

Any nation would grow fat and bored and spoiled.
In fact, many of them have.

Any nation would throw round its weight.
In fact, most have tried.

It’s not Western.
It’s in the hearts of all these thinking creatures.
In the brains of all these opposed thumb giants.

--Read on the airplane Diary by Chuck Palahniuk.
Good line, one of the best: If you don’t understand it, you can make it mean anything.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Purple Martini, Denver Colorado

--Three days with the parents will teach my to love the Purple Martini and the vodka tonics they pour there. My ex wife suggests it, from that distance that she’s taken from me, that spot so smart and secure.

--The barmaid is doing a stripper’s job, kneading my neck muscles and calling me sweetheart, trying to make me believe I’m the one customer in the bar for whom these words and gestures have actual meaning.

I half buy into it, even though I know she’ll have not even a glance for me when my check is settled and her tip is set in black ink.

--I think of my own stripper, that last real ex.

I’ve never been a boy for strip clubs. I take seduction too seriously to muddy it with cash. She started dancing long after we starting doing whatever it was that we were doing.

I wrote “You Marry A Stripper” long before I got with her and though I believe there is some kind of truth in that story it does not tell our story.

I’d written that story too. I’d written them all. Those that have happened to me and those that will. These little acts of frightening prophecy.

In any case, her dancing was neither what kept us together nor drove us apart.

It is a red herring.

--There is C, a girl who used to dance, now setting up her internet sex show site.

All that kind of thing used to be terribly fascinating.

--In any case, the bar grows busy. I am at a long table. Feeling out of place in a sweater I bought at Ross’s because I zipped my favorite sweater up in the suitcase and ruined it. Buying a new one was my way of mourning.

But it’s from Ross’s and I’m aware of that, feeling like it looks like a discount clothing store piece, even though it is Claiborne.

--I drink and I think of what I would not give that last serious ex, the girl who danced. I think of what she took. They were of a different order, those two sets of things, but maybe from some grave distance, it looks the same, the things she took, the things I did not give.

Maybe from some grave distance there is the point of breaking even. Objects bleeding into affections, or where they should have been.

--Down and across from me sit two women hiding their ages, though I can seem the truth of each of them Thirty year olds, with children and ex husbands, one blond and one with dark hair, talking to boys too young.

When the boys go away the women slide down.

“What are you doing here?” the blond wants to know. “You seem bored.”

And we exchange quick stories.

Indeed, divorced single mothers.

Neither of them is my type. I am probably not the type of either of them. It is under important.

--I look around. I wonder if I had to choose a woman to be with forever which would I choose? How would I choose?

I recognize physical imperfections n a heartbeat, but everyone has them. I ask myself first, is this one you could overlook in those opening moments when attraction is so tender, or in the second stage, when you’ve gotten used to the person, gotten past the question of sex, and see her again, see her really clearly for the first time?

But it’s really a minor question.

What I’m really trying to guess by cut of face and expression of eye is who has the kind of heart I seek?

--To the side of me a thin girl who keeps her spine very straight. She turns her head and for a moment the eye is perfectly caught in some light so that I can see the outward curve of it and the clear space between the final film and the colored disc.

It’s a personal moment, almost as intimate as anything I could imagine between us.

--The boys come back. Twenty seven or twenty eight. Full of themselves and good looking, but slightly thick of face and the type that will quickly fade.

One of them starts working the blond.

She goes so easy.

I feel a nausea.

It is for my ex wife, and all my exs, and all the women I care about who might be so easily maneuvered by anybody but me.

--It really grows. I’ve never waned to hit somebody more without actually hitting him.

It ebbs.

--Eventually he’s squeezing her neck and kissing her mouth and smirking to himself and to his friend.

I want to tell her, “You’ve disgraced yourself. Your children even. You are so easy.”

--All the party girls are out and I never knew how to take a girl like that.

There was that one time when the most celebrated of the party girls, when the one girl every boy in the bar wanted, chose, by some accident, me and glued herself against my body and pressed her face to mine.

Not just the pretty girl in the bar. That happens, but the girl in the bar who flits from group of boys to group of boys, demanding attention, gathering it up, and moving along

Of what use have I ever been to a girl like that, a sort of perfect attention whore?

Looking like a model on a binge, just one or two steps away from whatever it is a model is. But she’s never been on the other side of those steps. And she works everybody effortlessly so that she can pretend she has.

--So this one, not so long ago, she affixed herself to me.
And maybe because I did not give easily or maybe because she was especially hungry, or all of these things and others aligned, she begin to work I hard.

But then I was with the stripper and loyal and what could I do but push away?


It is going in and in and in.

I hit the good moment.

I think, if I could meet any of the girls I’ve met, but meet them right now, freshly, in this bar, with the vodka just so, and the music making everything feel so dramatic, and the lights making everything just so lovely, I could love her perfectly.

If we’d never have to leave.

--Just as I used to think when I was dating the girl who lied about too much, even the birth date of her dog: I could do this.

I could be with her night after night.

If I only keep drinking.

--The night goes on.
The older women disappear.

There is a hand on my shoulder. Not the waitress. A girl in a black dress.

It is the immediate conversation by habit: how old are you?
The reoccurring answer.

Don’t judge me by my age, she says. I’ve an old soul, she clichés.

Yes, yes.

Her skin is nice. The dress is black. The eyes are blue.

She tells me she likes my sweater, how it feels.
Bless you, I tell her.

I feel nothing serious. Nothing much at all. But I go on with it, trading flattery for flattery.

Soon she is kissing me, and I am holding the back of her neck.

And the older women, they return, and I realize that the blond is quite likely thinking of me just what I thought of her: that in some way I am disgracing myself.

--So off into the night.


The holiday behind me, those in-nutrient gatherings with my families, the one I was born into, the one I created and dismantled.

--And I think how lucky I am to have a son. For without my responsibility to him, without the knowledge of the light I bring to his world, then I have nothing.

There is nothing I like to taste enough.
There are no dvds I can put in.
No PS2 games I can play.
No daisy fields through which I can walk.
No grand canyons.
My writing dreams are faded, and if they’d been fulfilled or if they will they would not have and will not fulfill me.
There’s nothing at all to justify this life but the light of me on the face of the child.

And that’s enough.

--The roads are frozen. This is not my state. This is a rental car.

I think of those ice deaths, McCabe, Women in Love.

And I drive carefully, like one who protects one who must be protected.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Fight Club. A Sport and a Pastime. A Brave Man.

--Friend and colleague LD comes into the office visibly upset, having obviously steeled himself. He closes the door, my door, an act of aggression.

I want to have a word with you, he says.

I know this is no good.

You want to see that I'm a brave man? he asks. Then stand up.

I stand.

I don’t like it. This all feels wrong. Not just the violence that’s about to come down—perhaps, in fact, that will be the cleanest part of it. But the mess of grapevine and misunderstanding that must have lead him here, this all makes me tired.

Even makes me a little sad.

And it comes to me, this blog.

I square up and try to think of what it was I wrote that brought this on.

It is easy to be misunderstood or too well understood.

--In the other part of my mind there is that distance that comes before the fight, when you see it like a spectator, like a guy playing a video game, when you acknowledge the things in the room and the space between, when you mark out exactly over what the other person can be caused to trip backwards or forward; when you decide if you will aim to pummel or pull forward; when in thisonesecond you try to guess your opponent’s plans and step ahead of them.

There’s the dull pre-fight thrill, like drums far away, excited and exciting but muted.

--You can’t afford to think about it from anything but a distance.
The way that while you’re in it, you can’t afford to think of an accident from anything but a distance, lest panic deliver you up.

--And I’m still thinking in some other part of my mind: this sucks.
Thinking: aren’t you done making enemies yet?

Thinking: haven’t you settled yourself?
Accepted in lieu of real competition games of chess and occasional football afternoons?
Just the way you’ve mostly accepted slow and not always final seduction in lieu of that numbers game boys sport fucking?

Yet here you are, in the face of an enemy you don’t think you intended.
In some alpha male thing you meant to outgrow but haven’t outgrown.

--There’s nothing to do about it.

You remember how punches don't hurt when you’re fighting.
You remember that a punch never settles it anyway.
You remember that when you fight you go for the throat, the elbow, the incapacitation.

You think vaguely and briefly of the time in Beirut when there was a fight in the streets and all around you men were at each other and the one amongst them whose head was open and who kept trying to stand but wobbling back down and there was blood all about and there were bottles breaking and the soldiers had waded in outnumbered and slightly panicked and shoving with their rifles, and you did not move away from anyone or toward anyone but stood in the middle of it like the calm eye, miraculously unmolested, perhaps so far out of place in all that chaos that you were invisible.

You think of the thrill of it.
You think of all those primal things.

--And you think: haven’t I learned just to spectate?
Haven’t I outgrown all of these things?

--And his face breaks into a grin.
And he says: Got you.

--It’s healthy at best and interesting at least to be out of the real sense of things. Like in that moment between when someone leaps out to scare you and when you actually recognize it as a friend.

In that half second when there is absolutely no difference to your heart or your mind between this counterfeit emergency and one that was real, when there is no difference between the jokester and a killer with a knife.

--You try to know if you are a brave man or a coward.

--I think of the time at the subway station in San Francisco when four men had attacked another man. The man was beaten badly. He’d dropped his motorcycle helmet and his nose was broken in a way I’d have never believed, like Nichols Cage’s at the end of Wild at Heart.

I was a kid then, I’d grown up on violence, but I’d never seen it taken so far. I’d grown up on fights but never witnesses pure assault, never seen somebody bent on the act of destruction of another body.

It was that trip too that for the first time I stepped into a porno shop and saw all the video covers and magazines, not just the stuff I’d grown up on, but the hardcore reality of people doing everythingyoucanimagine and with cameras up close, and I realized: this stuff really exists; people do all these things.

People don’t just make out and make love and goof around; they go hard core and all down and what is left after that?

And violence.

In the subway station, where people weren’t just playing pecking order games but meaning to change someone’s life.

--They were telling him, get on the train.

He stood there wobbling, not getting on the train.

People had peeled away. My friend, DG, he went to the other side of the pole. Leave it alone, he said.

And they came forward and hit the man several times. He was bleeding worse now. They stepped back.

A man with a suit on and a girl beside him was watching, glad I suppose, that he’d not been chosen and feeling untouchable because of it.

One of the assailants asked him what the fuck he was looking at. He turned, taking the hand of the girl, and was safe.

The train door was open. The people were watching from inside of it.
I realized the man couldn’t get on the train.
They kept telling him too.
I don’t know why they were beating him, but I suppose maybe they wanted to stop and that’s why they wanted him on the train.
Maybe they knew if he didn’t get out of there they’d beat him until he was dead and they didn’t want that.

At that moment, I was brave.

I walked to him. I meant to take him to the train.

As I reached for him, one of the assailant came flying past, and landed a kick in the man’s chest. He stumbled back, onto the train, and as if it had been scripted and the choreographed, the doors closed.

I waited for something to happen to me, but nothing did.

--Years later, in my apartment with my wife in the late night I heard sudden explosions and went to the window.

I saw that in the parking below a man stood by the dumpster enclosure pointing a hand gun at somebody hidden by the enclosure but clearly on the ground.

It was a young man. There was a woman standing behind him, looking afraid.

It was my opportunity to be a hero.

I’d run down the steps and out the door and like a cat across the lawn and tackle down the shooter.

But I wasn’t brave that day.

I couldn’t move. My legs went soft. I gagged.

I was frozen and useless, no hero.

--And my eyes adjusted and I saw that what the man held was a pipe and that there was nobody on the ground but that he’d been beating on the side of the dumpster container with his pipe.

And the girl behind him, she wasn’t afraid. She was laughing.

--In my office, for those five seconds when I don’t know better, the question was not of courage or cowardice. It takes neither to fight.

The question is of fatigue.

The fear that no matter how you relate to another man, at the end of it all, he believes that you want to beat him at something.

The way that you fear that no matter how you relate to a woman, at the end of it all she believes you want to sleep with her.

The deeper fear, that thing that you purposefully doubt: maybe, at the end of it all, they’re right.

For those four or five seconds.

--And I think of LD now, the particular expression: You want to see that I’m a brave man?

Brave man.

And it takes courage to muster that even for a few seconds; not because of the threat of violence but because it is a kind of male confession, the one we always should be making, that we are concerned with how the world sees us, whether the world things we are brave men.

For he might have said anything to build his joke but he chose something honest—that he means to be considered a brave man.

He belied himself, and us all.

I like that about him.

Monday, November 22, 2004

The Death of Jim Loney. High Horse (see star). I Get off My High Horse. Blood in the Snow.

--Teaching The Death of Jim Loney.
It makes my eyes wet.

And it shames me.
I’ll never write something as beautiful as that.
I wonder who it was that shamed James Welch.

But it’s not for the death of Loney that I cry, if I cry at all.
It’s not for any character that somebody dreamed up.
It’s for the mind that come up with thoughts as sad and as beautiful as those. That’s what I cry for. If I cry.

And I knew James Welch.
And his mind day to day was not that lovely. And he died of sickness, not of loneliness and loss the way his character died.
--I'm getting on my high horse.

*(Don’t tell the French, they’ll eat It, and if that bothers you, remember that some people think about cows the way you do about horses, and that the average pig is smarter than your dog and that a worm's central nervous system is as complex as your own).

--A hunter got into a dispute with other hunters in WI. He ended up killing six and wounding others. Authority Zeigle reports the suspect was “chasing after them and killing them,” with a SKS 7.62 mm semiautomatic rifle, a common hunting weapon. He then became lost in the woods and was lead out by other hunters whereupon he was recognized and arrested.

He’d run out of bullets.

I will make no light of this tragedy.

--Driving two days ago on the freeway I passed a SUV pulling a trailer with a four wheeler in it. Strapped to the four wheeler were the corpses of two deer.

You forget how it looks, something so large and so dead, if you haven’t seen it in a while. I grew up like that, with the dead all around me.

You can get used to anything.

I will make no light of this tragedy.

--I’m not as anti hunting as you would guess.
Oh, I’m anti hunting.
But many of the people who eat meat that has been slaughtered and packaged complain about the barberry of hunting and I find that a bit silly.

What happens to the cow or the pig or the chicken on the typical factory farm (where 99 percent of this country’s meat and dairy products come from) can only be defined as torture; what happens to them in the slaughterhouse is something beyond. The bulk of our meat animals are not even dead before they are being skinned.

Give me a bullet through the heart on a snowy day in November any time over the life and death of an animal whose meat you will be buying cellophane wrapped.

Give me even a not so sudden death, but a stumbling one. An hour in the cold in which I can see my breath go thin. But not a factory farm life or a slaughterhouse death.

--And at you can target practice in a virtual way but with real world outcomes. You control the firearm with your mouse, but there is a real firearm and it really fires a real bullet and it hits a real target. They’ll burn a dvd for you to show you your gun going off as a result of your will for it to do so.

And that must make you feel oh so powerful.

God knows, growing up with guns, that’s how I felt.

--They mean to offer virtual hunting with the same results.

“We are currently working on a very comfortable, ADA compliant blind which will house the LIVE-SHOT shooting system. Once this and the perimeter fencing are completed, will we be able to offer a unique computer assisted hunting opportunity.”

In short, you can kill an animal from the comfort of your own home. With the click of a mouse.

They way they promised us wars would eventually be fought.

--People tell me: what are you vegetarian for? That’s against nature.
And I tell them: if this was nature, I’d beat you over the head and drag your wife off and have my way with her.

But all are laws, those things that make us human, that nod to the development of our conscience as a species, those are the very opposite of the laws of nature.

For what is for an elk mating is for us rape.
What is for a sparrow forging is for us stealing.
We call assault (ask Artest) what any other species in the world considers a shot at survival of the fittest.

In short, the laws of nature are exactly opposite of our laws.
Except those that say: if it tastes good, kill and eat it.

--As a boy, I hunted with my father. Ironically, these are some of the memories that cause me the deepest sense of nostalgia.

Not for the kill. Not for the blood in the snow or the flavor of heart and liver mixed with scrambled eggs. It's because it was me when I was young and my father when I knew him less well than I know him now and therefore knew him as better.

But we were together. As I remember it, it was always dusk. I can hear his footsteps breaking through the curst. I can see the mountains blue around us. And I can feel the cold and the promise of the warmth to which we would return.

And I can remember the feeling that everything was in order, the world in its universe, me and my father on it.

Even though I was a killer I think of this time as my innocence.

--My mother keeps a photo. I find it hidden in her home in the room of her most prized possessions, in a wooden box my father bought for her in Chinatown, a place where I can only assume she keeps the most precious of mementos.

It is of me, smiling, eight or nine, holding the antlers of deer which dangles from the ceiling of the barn, its eyes blackly vacant, blood dripping from its tongue, me hefting the head upward as if I mean for it to pose there with me.

She keeps it I suppose lest she ever have to remind me that I am not what I think I am.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Sports Follies

--Tony Dungy is upset about MNF intro, a sort of racy skit using Terrell Owens and one of the Housewives. In Dungy’s mind, the skit was racist.

“I look at that and what I see in an African American.”

That’s odd. All I saw was Terrell Owens.
I wide receiver.
And a proven asshole.
But that was about it.

--Jim McCurdie writes of Friday night’s basketball brawl:” …carnage…of one of the most reprehensible, unfathomable, undeniably sickening events to darken a professional sports stage in decades.”

I suppose a fan getting punched in America outweighs soccer stadium deaths.

And carnage?

Don’t we at least need a little blood to properly apply that word?

--How infectious is violence?
Ask the brawling football players from yesterday’s SC vs Clemson game.

Ask George Bush’s security posse who got into a shoving match with the Chilean President’s security personnel late Saturday.

(That really happened).

--Ask any boy sitting around any bar Saturday night if he didn’t feel a little less willing to put up with a perceivable sign of disrespect from another boy.

--And all these sports reporters basking in their indignation, ask them when they can answer honestly if something primal in them doesn’t stir when they see the footage of Friday’s basketball game, Saturday afternoon’s football game, or Saturday night’s Presidential reception.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Preamble. Los Reyos. McCracken’s. Dixie Tavern Revisited.

--With the new girl it is as simple as this: I know she is good.
I can bluster about what I’m looking for, but at the end of the day it all boils down to simple goodness.
And I know she is.

In the middle of the day in this apartment that is mine we have decisions to make.
Her hips bones.
The x I scratch on my flesh and the way her mouth sinks toward it.

These are love story moments but this is not a love story.

--There are all these different ways to say goodbye.

She gives me the greatest complement I can remember receiving but she doesn’t even know it.

We take pictures.
Her face.
My face.

The blue frog that is sad.

These long strings of activities in code: goodbye.

--Perhaps it is like what killing must be like.
You get used to it.

--Early evening, a U function.

I can listen and listen and listen.
And I can nod.

And the liquor is free and that’s something but if you offered me fifty bucks to be here I wouldn’t so what really am I doing with this smile frozen on my face and this beer in my hand as if it solves anything?

This is not my crowd. These are not my people.

--The forty year old MBA: he understands women the way you do and women understand him the way you are understood.

He is known for his seductions and he wants to talk round about ways to you of them.

And his face is cracked and his suit is necessary.

What you realize is that he is who you will be or perhaps who you are. And he is bathed in pathos, even if the blond fresh to the program will fall into bed with him.

You see how small he is. And you know precisely how you relate.

Brother, you say.
Brother, he says.

It makes you like him a lot more and yourself a lot less.

--Exit strategy number two.

I realize: this evening I am fluid.
And I realize: this evening I cannot be still.

In stillness there is sadness and you aught move.

--Drink date, 8pm, she’s forty minutes late, an accident on the freeway.

This pretty girl with her eyes the color of root beer and very big and very round.

You could take her seriously but there was the fucked up moment on the weekend before.
You don’t know her well enough for even the smallest slip. And now she seems so together and so full and so potentially fulfilling you can hardly stand to stand there without touching her.

But it is an illusion.

You remember the fucked up moment.

Your guard went up and you wonder as you sip your drink and she drinks hers if she has figured out that she’ll never get it down.

--Outside, just a little rain. You stand on the balcony sharing a vodka tonic.

It’s good to be drunk and it’s almost holy.
At times like this you could believe in anything.

--But you’ve got to go.
You told her before she came that your night was short.

You told her even if you don’t mean it now.
Because you could just sink back to your place with her.
She showed you once that she knows things, how to relate to you in certain ways, and there is a comfort in that.

She is of the world. She is woman and not girl.
There is comfort in that.

But you’ve told yourself it is not that kind of night.

You are celebrating.
Or you are mourning.
--There is the girl of the afternoon and her ghost will not haunt you.
You are pressing on.
You are rowing your boat.

--The ballerina. She’s alone although you expected her with a friend.

She’s always so warm.
She’s all full of embrace.
And you are not worthy.

You’ve promised one drink. You have two.

This is an Irish pub. Her new haunt. Small and you can smell the baked potatoes, and the waitress is stunning.

This is LA. It’s always the same story with her: she recognizes that you are corrupt but in her innocence doesn’t really know what you’d take from her.

There is a pattern to your meetings.
The cab of a vehicle, those false restraints, and how you sometimes move beyond them.

But this is a night of the day in which you started breaking patterns.
You tell yourself: you are fluid.
There’s not a hand on you.

--She fixes your hair.

You tell her that you got a gray stubble.

She finds it.
She thinks it’s sexy.
She says, When I tell people about you, I always say you have this sexy splash of gray in your hair.

She has no way of understanding.
She doesn’t know how when that hair has gone gray and its yours you really understand it will never be anything else again.

--You ask her to request “Lay Lady Lay” and she does.
The man sings it.

It would be easy to stall now, in this music, in this warmth, with this woman who means to talk you into being bad for her.

And it’s not even for her sake that you go.

--Dixie Tavern.

This is where you belong but you were fucked up before you get there.
Your supposed to be home working on the treatment for PK.

But you are not home and this bar in your old neighborhood is not your bar, and this neighborhood is not your neighborhood, and what happened to send you from it was dark –the darkest moment of your life—so what are you doing here?

What sick habit is this?

This is where you go.

--And tonight? Nobody knows you.
Nobody likes you.
If a fight broke out they’d want to see you lose.

They’d cheer for your blood.

--It’s vodka. It’s vodka. It’s vodka.
You couldn’t be more lost.
You couldn’t be less social.

--Eventually, a girl you met at a party. She remembers you. She tells you the details of your break up.

You say, I must have been fucked up.
She says, Yes.

She sits down and her friend sits down. You straighten your spine.

Her voice is strained, as if she has been yelling all day or breathing too much smoke and perhaps one of these things or both are true.

You imply you’re too old for her. It is so that she’ll tell you that you’re not too old.
But she doesn’t.
What she tells you is that she’s not too young.

-- At the last bar, LA fixed your hair just so. Everything is, in fact, just so.

Now, for fifteen or twenty minutes, the light is right, and so too is the level of alcohol; and your stubble is perfectly grown, and you are handsome and you are young and all your blood is coursing in your muscles.

And she buys into the illusion of you.
And she presser her lips on your lips.
And you buy it too.

--And you’ve got a gray stubble.
And that hair that has died, it will never live again.
And that woman in your apartment this afternoon, she’s gone.

You’ve said goodbye.

You’re beyond the pail.

And you know what that means.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Story of the Girl and the Boy (allow for slight variation)

--They meet. Something about each alarms in wonderful ways the heart of the other.
They tell each other their stories; who the world thinks they are; who they really are; where they come from.
Heat runs between them when they touch.
The first few times they have sex each of them feels for entire half minutes to be in love.
As the glorious novelty of fucking burns away they spend more time doing other things.
They go for walks outside and they wander around Wal-Mart and Best Buy and she burns him a cd and he buys her a dozen clichés or a box of them.
They watch television programs together.
They begin to develop more deep seated affections.
Perhaps they cohabitate, but in any case, they sleep often in the same bed.
The pressure of the world is stressing him and she wants to help.
She never received the love she deserved and that implications of that frighten him; or, she received it to well and knows what to want and that frightens him too.
But she is beautiful and she may complete him in some way and he’ll see it through.
She sees his soft side.
He sees her strength.
They have their argument.
She understands that he can be cruel.
He understands that she can be cold.
The part of himself that he kept separate, that his daddy kept separate before him and that men have always been keeping separate, glows.
It says: I told you so.
He plants the seed of his bitterness there, where it will be nourished.
And she takes the disappointment to heart.
She says to herself: perhaps it is me. I bring this on myself.
But somewhere she knows that isn’t true.
However, she insists on the truth of it, at least for a time.
She tries to teach him how to treat her by treating him that way.
She buys him little gifts.
She complements his appearance.
She asks him about his day.
He gets annoyed.
She takes the little insults as they come.
He sees himself wrestling with the weight of the world; it is, he imagines, reasonable to insist that she not ask too much of him.
Perhaps he begins to fuck around with another woman.
If so, he will treat her with the affection that he seems no longer capable of showing to the original girl.
The new woman might very well be in some stage of the same story with a man not unlike him.
But perhaps he doesn't start that yet.
In any case, if they go on like this for long, he will.
You’re always stuck in something, she says. It is a screen or a book or something he calls hobby or work or addiction.
He has a blindness.
She does too.
Neither of them can really see the balloon that is forming in her heart.
When it bursts, its contents will change, in almost an instant, the way she feels for him.
Something will pour into her that will not erase but invalidate the thing she is calling love.
He can’t imagine that because as a man he doesn’t operate like that. There are no balloons.
She can’t imagine it because if she did she would understand that there is no security in this world, not even in terms of what she can known about herself.
He seems to grow harder and more distant.
They quarrel over little things.
They quarrel over big things.
When he throws her crumbs it is in his weak moments.
When he throws her crumbs it is so that she will put him at ease.
She doesn’t understand that he can’t see that she feels as if she drowning--it seems so obvious to her.
He does not think as much can go on in her heart or mind as goes on in his.
He tells himself she is simple.
Sometimes they have a perfect afternoon, or a perfect morning, a perfect minute, and they both know what it could be, what it should have been, what it is not.
She is alone; she never wanted to be alone.
He becomes more convinced his world is more complicated than she could ever guess.
Her job is to greet him when steps from it. And for that he will give her the warmth of his body and perhaps the shelter of his roof.
And he will mold the future; he will sculpt it; he will take responsibility ultimately for the two of them, their bodies in the world, their hungers for food and things.
But he will not listen to her for very long.
He is too tired and what she says means too little.
And he will not hold her for very long.
He wants to fuck when he wants to fuck.
When she does, she hardly knows how to ask, and after several times of being rebuffed, she won’t ask, or not easily.
She will remain awake while he sleeps tired, and oblivious.
The end of the world is swirling through her mind.
She’ll meet a man.
That man will listen to her.
That man will say in conversations that are becoming less and less veiled that she is beautiful and unique.
He will affirm that she is a rare thing to be treasured.
He will tell her good things about her outfit; about her hair.
And the other man, the original man, will tell her when she gets home: I don’t like your hair like that. You look strange in that sweater.
She will start to peel away.
As she begins to, he’ll think he wants it.
Let her go, he’ll tell himself. You really want to be alone anyway.
And secretly the weakness that is the center of all men believes that he is in control.
It can’t imagine a world otherwise.
That weakness that doesn’t want to envision chaos will tell him the decision is his and will always be his.
But he has lost the rights to such a decision.
The balloon breaks.
Her heart changes. It happens so quickly.
She doesn’t respect him or what they have anymore and therefore can never partake of it again, not naturally, anyway.
When that comes clear to him, the weak part will get honest with itself, because it must.
It will recognize that she has the control.
And it will recognize his need for her.
Get her back, it will cry.
And all the visions of love that he’d started to hide from himself will come slamming into the forefront of his mind.
He’ll cry on the telephone. Come back to me, he’ll say.
She cares for him. She feels something.
But she is gone.
That’s what she tells him.
There is that other man, that new man.
She’ll start again.
Maybe he’s starting again too.
Maybe they’ll work it out.

You know this story. You’ve played one of these roles. Over and over.

Goodbye, Philip Roth. Goodbye, Kinski. All of Me.

--Bought dvds:

Nostalgia value:
Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House, a film I watched several times with my father when I was young.

Arsenic and Old Lace. I played Mortimer in a HS production. What was that, fourteen years ago? And I remember so much of it clearly. The stage; the color of the set walls; the faces of performers, of the audience.

I can remember the way I felt, not just those nights, but the days and nights around them; I can put together almost my whole life through memories of feelings.

And is a memory of a feeling different than a feeling itself?

--And The Human Stain. I’ve never liked Nicole Kidman’s nose but she seems a good performer.

This is however not her finest hour and forty minutes. Her performance is overly mannered, completely intellectualized; she’s been lead to believe that if she talks in a low voice and blows cigarette smoke at fifteen second intervals, she’s acting.

Think again.

--A non-compelling film; a film full of heavy handed literary references; a reminder, like The Dying Animal, that Roth is dated, no matter how he tries to keep up; he has been dated for years, decades really.

--It has been a warm day. A butterfly flew alongside me for fifteen or twenty steps of my run.

It reminded me of the last scene of the Kinski documentary, a documentary which lays him open, a madman, a near monster, a spoiled genius, and yet he stands there in the jungle with a childish smile on his face, a butterfly floating around him, settling and lifting and settling again, as if it cannot leave him, as if it is drawn to some sweetness beneath the cracks in his flesh and the bile in his heart.

As if it means to tell us that he is good.

--Am I good?

If you saw me in the sun today, making long strides, the butterfly beside me, if you were witness to that illusion, you’d think: yes.

--And I recognize that I’ve made sort of screeching stop to the heavy dating.

I ask myself: why?
I ask myself: did you get tired?
Or was it because you found this new girl?
Or did you find this new girl because you were tired?

I tell myself: you did not invent the new girl.
She invented herself.
If you were set on such an invention, you would have used somebody else.

--And I think of how easy it is to focus on some part of the person and not the whole.

I recognize in most girls when they come at me that they are purposefully building blinds spots in their eyes, that there are scars about which she will not ask, histories she does not want to know.

I tell myself: She’ll fixate on and love some part of you.
I tell myself: But there is some part of you that she avoids which may eventually offset that love.

I don’t mean the new girl. Perhaps I’ve recognized something quite opposite in her. Maybe she seems to me unblinking. Maybe that's what I like.

But I just mean any girl. And her even, or one like her.

--And I think: if it is going to be proper, anything you are going to have with any girl, she must really see you first.

I must make her see me.
All of me.

Without the butterfly.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


--Strangely delivered and unexpected news that brings me suddenly in mind of the real world existence of someone lost.

And it’s the first time in a long time that I’ve been afraid of going home alone. It’s the idea of the apartment and me in it that I find absolutely daunting.

As I teach my evening class, I think: I don’t want this to end.

I don’t want to stop talking.
I don’t want to start thinking.

--But I stop talking. Class ends. I start thinking.

--It’s Tuesday night.

I should get out of here.
I should take a drink with somebody.
I don’t have male friends like that. I barely have male friends.

And there are some girls with whom I could go drinking but that would be complicated by the things boys and girls want from each other.

--And it’s quite here, despite the sound of traffic; and it’s dark, despite the moon; and it’s cold.
I know how I will sleep and how I won’t.

And I know how much trouble I’m in. I guess at some point or another we all recognize that about ourselves.

And I suppose it is possible, and quite necessary, that we forget.


--I go to the grocery store.
There is the pretty girl behind the register.
I say to her: It always makes me happy when I come here and see that you are working.

She says, I don't think you mean that.
But she knows I do. This makes her smile; this makes her happy.

It is momentarily fulfilling.

--There are steps that are irretrievable. There were things you did not do and will never be given the option to do again.

You were strong enough to feed her.
You were strong enough to punish her enemies.
But you were not strong enough to put your head on her shoulder.
Or your heart fully in her hands.

(There are no beautiful women. There are no strong men).

--And I ask myself: What did you think:
that she had stopped being a person?
That she was just some character in the story of your old life?

That horror story? That love story?

Of course she reamins in the world.

--And I think of the new girl and how our situation nearly duplicates the way the mess from which I try to imagine I’ve recovered began. There was her boyfriend then, that false security with the idea that he would act as a buffer between me and that which frightens me.

Perhaps they even look the same, these girls.

If this is the cycel of my life, I want to break it.

--And you promise yourself, the next time you move toward a hand extended from the near darkness, you will do so out of strength and not weakness. That will be a real embrace.

--Groceries to unload.
Everything balanced just so.

Do they belong here, these freshly boughten things?
The tortilla wraps, the oatmeal, the bag of apples, the bottles of beers?

(and if you recognize the oatmeal, and if in that reference you find yourself moved, then you are lost with me)

--There’s nothing you can eat that will make it better. There is nothing you can drink that will drown it out. There’s nothing that you can buy that will replace it.

And the night is very calm. And there is not enough noise in the world.

--There's an upsidedown wine glass in the sink, and you can't imagine moving it.
The world is fragile and haunted.
You think it is better to remain perfectly still.
Like a person buried but not dead.

And you wonder if bears dream when they hibernate.
And you wonder if they don't if you could escape like that.

You wonder: from what coma could you emmerge clean and unburdened?

Monday, November 15, 2004

Then for What? It’s in Her Kiss. Bowing Out. The Things that Make You Beautiful. Residue. Let’s Play Master and Servant. Fur Bearer.

--The girl that cuts my hair tells me that she has chosen the name for her daughter.
She’s not pregnant.
She’s not married.
She doesn’t even have a boyfriend.

But she’s got a name for her daughter:
Davede Jade

She says of that name, “I want it to be different but not just for the sake of being different”

--So there comes a kiss that really has the power to move.

The power of the kiss does not relate exactly to how she performs it.

Rather, it is that it is HER kiss: it is that it is her lips; her tongue; her breathe.

It is that she is giving those things to you and those things are valuable because they are hers.

Because she is valuable.
Exactly what makes her so, or anyone, I do not know how to say.

--As my father told me when I was young: for someone who wants to be a writer, you’re awfully inarticulate.

I don’t have the language for the important things.

--So maybe this girl flies in under the radar.

At just such a time when the music has not ended but reached its crescendo, and all the dancers are frozen.

Delicate in the stillness and honest with yourself and tired, you can’t imagine catching the beat when it comes round again; you can’t even image moving.

--And I think: is the feeling I have for this girl organic or have I invented it?

--I study her face.

She studies back.

She is brave in the way she stands before me. She doesn’t even blink. She tries to hide nothing.

There is in her that rare ability to separate from all manner of self consciousness. Her hungers are there, more visible than mine, as visible as any I’ve seen.

It allows her to reach a moment of absolute vulnerability, and in it we are connected.

It makes her very beautiful.

--I mean everything I say as well as I can mean it. As well as I can say it.

And there is no love born of a moment but there is some kind of momentary love, something that happens in an instant, during some exchange of eye contact or touch.

Its residue is on you long after she is gone, long after the scent of her is off your sleeves.

--The situation is flawed.

There is the boyfriend to whom she must return each night.

And I know how these things turn out; I’ve already written this story.

I know no two things are separate when kept in the heart of one person; I know how a heart divides.

--Throughout my life I have tried for control.

In the last potentially good relationship I had, we fought not so much to see who would control but to see who would not be controlled.

The battles were waged over insignificant stretches of land, Hamlet’s yards of straw; but it wasn’t about the battle. It was about the war. And in this war, neither person recognized that an alliance wasn’t just possible, but necessary; both were so afraid of being occupied that that would sacrifice anything to avoid it.

And did.

--I didn’t recognize it then. In the heat of the battle I’m sure most soldiers don’t know what they are fighting for beyond what feels like survival.

--Muscles around the wound tighten, as if to brace against it, but they only pull it taut and increase the pain.

So it is with feelings, even joy. I find myself flexing all around everything I feel and experiencing them not as they are organically, but rather as they are with the twist and pull of constriction.

I am learning, just now, to relax the muscles, and let the wound burn in its own way, let the joy flow out as it will.

This is called surrender.

--My friend K calls very early in the morning.

She tells me that she and her husband haven’t slept together in two years.

And I think of all this foreverness that was never meant to be.
All these false constructs of bonding.

--And my friend CG tells me that he has never been legitimately tempted to cheat on his wife, or any girl that came before. Men, he suggests, are not typically like women; most men will cheat.

Women, he emphasizes, aren’t like that.

But I think they are.

I think: a woman with a man in her life knows precisely what she is missing. She is then susceptible to the recognition of those things in another man. Perhaps she will even project those things onto him.

I think: we’re all so easy, really. Made weak and open by our focus on the hole around which the donut grows.

And I admire CG, because even if he doesn’t know about women and men, he knows about himself, and when he says that he has never been legitimately tempted, he means it.

--A woman I work with shows up with a scarf made of dead and peeled rabbits. Nobody wears fur well, but on people who profess themselves to be humanitarian, concerned, emotionally intelligent in any way, it is especially despicable.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

A Friend Indeed. A Note for the Offended. Don’t Not Love Me because I am Not Beautiful. Mothers and Daughters. Guilty as Charged

--JT, one of my longest standing friends, and most certainly one of the smartest people I know, emails me. She writes, “your blog is revolting, baby. it is!... you sound like that big-dong guy from boogie nights or whatever that movie is.”

She’ll probably want to kill me for quoting her.

I’m pretty sure that it’s not that I sound big-donged according to JT, but, you know, just like an idiot.

--Others have made me reconsider the anecdote about the hummer (last entry). To quell the crowd, I’ve tacked onto it the following:

“A NOTE FOR THE OFFENDED--I've gotten your messages, thanks much:

Please don't read the above anecdote as a story about how nice it is to get a hummer for a birthday present
Or how women just aren't smart.
Or, for that matter, how men just aren't that deep.

It is simply a story like all the ones in this entry about how people are so often at cross purposes.

No wonder it's a lonely world.”

Think it helped?

--KH, another very smart woman, tells me that sleep is the number one factor in beauty.
I believe everything KH says. So now I’m worried.

I was hoping that I was growing a kind of haggard handsome; I was trying to believe that these long nights with short naps were turning my eyes lucid; that kind of sickly charisma Val Kilmer offered up in Tombstone.

--A friend of mine who is far away—countries and countries away—and will always be, ends her most recent email like this:

“Today is mum's Birthday. We quarelled again... not even quarelled, she just strongly offended me, I HATE HER.
And she hates me I suppose.”

I don’t know. There was something just perfectly poetic about that.

--This is a short entry and it is rushed.

It sounds neither big donged nor completely idiotic, I imagine.

I hope.

--Incidentally, I know JT is my real real friend when she tells me that my blog revolts.
I know KH is my real real friend when she tells me I’m getting old.

And if this sounds like sarcasm, read me again and read between the lines. It’s not.

--PS: And a final note. I love it when a woman calls me “baby”. (“you’re blog is revolting baby…”)

I don’t know. It just does something for me. Or honey. Or lover. Or especially angel.

I once received a hummer from a woman solely on the strength of her having called me “angel” repeatedly.

--Damn it. There I am being revolting again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Hot Yoga. Ghost of a Girl. Nightmares II. Who I Was. A Girl I Didn’t Touch.

--CM, Monday’s date, told me about “hot yoga”.
They perform it in rooms kept at 120 degrees.

It makes the muscles supple, she told me. The stretch longer.

I couldn’t help wonder what it would be like to make love in that atmosphere.

--LD romanticizes my single life.
He thinks I have the best of all worlds.

He’s in a live-in relationship. I imagine that colors the way he sees me.

--I sit in the sun writing on my lap top. There passes a girl I knew in the spring. On her finger is a ring. She greets the fiancé and I realize this is the first time I’ve seen the boy on whom she cheated.

She’s wearing a blue sweater and she has dyed her hair from blond to brown. She is pretty, and for a moment I tell myself how it could have been between us if I’d pressed forward, how we would be greeting each other in the light of this Fall day, how she’d be in my bed this night, how we’d share a perfect love, or at least one that looked perfect form a distance.

Then the vision of it frightens me. It is not so much her, but me beside her. I can imagine it, but not the real me, and not when I put the days and the nights and the lumps of minutes and hours together and ask it to sustain anything legitimate.

--It reminds me of how careful I have to be of who I choose. Of how I can let the moment, any idealized bonding, sway me. How I have to think hard; how I have to imagine well; how I must know, reallyreally know, that for some long time, I have to be able to hold this person; I have to be able to look into her eyes; I have to touch her cheeks; I have to be able to hear her voice and the stories she tells.

There is no real moment in which such a promise can be born and yet for me I feel it in many moments.

--She’s pretty and soft in the light. She's got a thoughtful face. I see in the way she moves what I always saw: that she is capable of full surrender, the only thing I can accept and offer anymore.

I see her like that and still I recognize her as bullet dodged.

I see myself beside her as one who has grown puzzled, sullen, restless.

--Like the picture LK, my first real ex sent me to prove that I wasn’t as happy with her as I begin to think I was after it was over.

In that picture, the truth was on my face.

--She looks at me only twice. It is impossible to read what is in her eyes.

It is impossible to tell if I look to her like a bullet dodged, or if the boy who has clasped her hands looks like one she didn’t. I cannot guess if she is happy or sad; satisfied or restless; unfulfilled or content.

There is the glint of recognition and a slight shame of secret, and that is all I can be sure of.

I can barely remember the feel of her hip bone in my fingers, the press of her mouth on my own, so many meridians have fallen between now and then, that dark life and this less dark one.

That spring in which for just a little while I tried to make her resemble hope and she did the same to me.

--I have the nightmares that aren’t really nightmares.

It is just you frozen in your bed, with some kind of fear building in waves. You want to wake, but you can’t, and the fear builds and threatens to overwhelm you. You think to succumb to it.

You think to just relax and let it take you where it does.
And where would that be?
You never make it to that place. Your instincts are all against it.

You believe that if you can move only your toe, only your finger, you will wake and be safe again.

--When I finally accomplish it, when I wake, I think: I should have a girl in this bed. That would keep me safe from nightmares like this.

--But I know better. I remember how it has been when girls slept beside me. How I would be aware of them in that still and buzzing black with the terror building.

How I would think: she will save me.

How I would sense that she was awake and watching me from the outside and had no idea of my struggle and how if I could make her know it she would simply reach for my arm, tugging me into the conscious world.

How I would struggle to whisper: help me.
How it felt sometimes as if it came out: help me.

How she never woke me, no woman. How when I finally woke myself, when I finally sprung upright, all my muscled fatigued, sweat on my face, my chest, the girl would be there, silent, asleep, completely unaware.

--LK and me on a mattress on a floor in the poorest house in which I’ve ever lived, twelve years and one million decades ago; plastic on the windows to keep the heat in and the cold out; snow falling.

She tells me the story in the morning.

I woke up, she said. You were awake too, or you looked like it. You were staring at me. Your eyes were very wide and scared, like the eyes of a little boy seeing something awful. And in a trembling voice, you said to me, Who are you?

Who are you?

--We went on for a long time after that.
But we’d already had the vision of our demise.

--When I was a kid, twenty or twenty one, I worked security for an outdoor Steppenwolf concert at the Missoula County Fair. Mostly there were middle aged people wanting to hear Born to be Wild and Magic Carpet Ride and wave their lighters in the air.

There was a woman in the crowd with her friends. She had on a white blouse and she opened it and she peeled down her bra so that we could see her nipple. She smiled and it was the most seductive thing I’d ever seen, not obscene but lmost innocent.

I can still see it all perfectly, her smile, the color of her shirt, the color of her bra, the way it was laced, that small and rounded nipple in that flesh, a promise, a talisman, some kind of magic.

Afterwards, I went to her.

She was a Blackfoot girl and I was a kid from the Flathead Rez so maybe I thought we had something in common. She was in the city for a few days. Her reasons were vague.

I met her the following night at her hotel. She was wearing torn up jeans with patches of flesh visible all over. There was a little girl, four or five years old with her, her daughter.

I didn’t know what to say to either of them. I didn’t know what to do. She told the girl to go into the bathroom and wait. The girl went. She had not spoken at all.

I asked the woman: Why are you doing all of this?
She said: I want to feel close to someone.

--Often for me, sadness is not really sadness, but genuine pain; it more black than blue, or there is sorrow, or melancholy, but hardly ever just that pure thing we call sadness.

I felt it then. I felt it so well I’ll never forget that moment. I won’t forget the exact color of the fabric of her bra or the exact color of the flesh of her nipple from the night before; I will not forget her smile or her torn jeans; I will not forget the daughter who did not speak or how she looked going into the bathroom or how the door sounded pulling closed.

I won’t forget what the woman said about why she was doing it.

And I won’t forget that sadness.

And of course, I couldn’t touch her, not at all.

--DG is the only legitimate “ladies’ man” I’ve known. He couldn’t burn down any girl, but I’d guess about seventy percent.

When I knew him, he had no phone, no car, just a little apartment above an alley where he’d cook pasta and drink wine. The girls would come by all through the evening, throwing stones up at the window and calling him down.

He told me a story about a time a woman was performing oral sex on him while he stood and she kneeled. It was, he said, a birthday gift, and she called it a hummer.

Knead my ass, he told her.

And though her mouth was full, she looked up and said, sincerely: I do. I do need your ass.

--He’s married now, to a woman from Italy; he is, in fact, lost in Italy with her. The last time I saw him he’d gotten old; his teeth have grayed, his hair thinned, his muscle gone slack.

I don’t know if he is happy.

--A NOTE FOR THE OFFENDED--I've gotten your messages, thanks much:
Please don't read the above anecdote as a story about how nice it is to get a hummer for a birthday present
Or how women just aren't smart.
Or, for that matter, men just aren't that deep.

It is simply a story like all the ones in this entry about how we're so often at cross purposes. No wonder it's a lonely world.

--LD, who romanticizes my single life, tells me I have captured the perfect existence.

He says: You don’t have to be alone but you can be alone when you want to.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Graceless. Tainted. Not Objectifying Last Night’s Date. Curiosity and Cats. Serial Dater. Cereal Addict. Don't Steal My Sunshine

--I realize, dealing with girls, all these dates, sincerity is the only grace I have.

----Driving to last night’s date, I see a clump of leaves and what looks like dirt on the passenger side floor of my Dodge. When I snatch this mess up to toss it from the window, I realize that I hold is a dried up piece of dog shit instead of a clump of dirt.

Friday’s date must have brought it in with her shoes.

And though of course it has nothing really to do with her, I find her sort of tainted by it.

Which is ok because since Friday, I’ve yet to hear from her.

--In any case, now I’m running late and hold this dried dog dung in my hand and realizing that when I get to the bar, tonight’s date will be waiting. I can not go immediately to the bathroom and wash; I’ll have to greet her.

I could hold up my hands and explain about the dog doo, but this is only our second date, and bringing the dog shit to her attention could taint me in the same way Friday’s date has been tainted by it.

And I don’t want that.

I’ll walk in, she’ll rise up; a touch is required.

Then she’ll be tainted.

--LA chastises me for objectifying women.

In honor of her, I will not mention the pleasure I felt when last night’s date turned out to be taller than I remembered, nearly as tall as I am, and how I longed when walking toward her greeting smile for her to be in a skirt again.

I will not write about how she kissed or didn’t.

I won’t talk about her fingernails or her collarbones; the small of her back or the swell of her bossom.

I’ll not in fact write about anything her at all.

--Friday’s date writes finally: Sorry I’ve been out of touch. I’ll explain later. I had a good time.

I imagine I know what she is up to. I imagine she is trying to shape this narrative. She wants to create of herself a character in which mystery still exists, for she has learned that what we call attraction is often really the quest to solve the other and that when a person seems solved we move toward a fresh mystery.

--I am always sad on the way to a date. I see in car windows the faces of girls I’d have not noticed if I were on my way to the grocery store or the gym.

I think: I am lost to this girl.
I think: On this night, in these circumstances, I cannot get to know her.

And I drive on, more sadly yet, her face disappearing, me moving toward that one particular person, that death of all possibility except that which she offers.

--That feeling will burst. As I get closer to her, I will get more real. Or perhaps it is less real that I will get.

I date because I want to be enraptured.

That happened a bit on Friday.

--But she doesn’t get in touch until Monday.

And I think I have her figured out.

I think, this is what she does: she comes on strong and then disappears. Steps out again but only long enough to say that the answers are coming later.

I think: She’s trying to preserve or even create a sense of mystery.
And I think: She wants to keep her reader.

Of course, there is the opposite spin to put on it.

And at this stage, it hardly matters.

--I don’t like to read authors who make me aware of them. When I think about the choices the author is making I’ve lost the feeling of being immersed in the story, and then the only experience I have relates to craft.

Perhaps I admire her craft.

Or maybe it is not craft at all. Perhaps that is just the story I myself am weaving.

--OD chatsizes me for a blog too dark. She writes that sometimes she wants to just take me into the sunshine and show me that the world can be full of light.


--This morning, just now really, I stumbled into the kitchen, still tired from the night, from good dreams and bad dreams and all dreams so intense that to have them is like not sleeping at all.

I opened the cupboard, took out a bowl, opened the pantry, glared at the cereal.

I’ve tasted it all too much.

And then, at the end of the row, something I’d forgotten. I heard myself say it out loud: I bought Raison Bran!

And it’s been some long time, and the idea of those raisons—sweet and thin and burstable--was so pleasurable, I nearly clapped hands.

--This is when I like myself the best. Reduced to simplicity and near innocence.

--And today, this Autumn afternoon, I will go walking beneath the leaves that have not fallen and over those that have; I will think of how in the Fall, everything has gone soft, the sky light blue, the grass light green, the sun the color of an egg yolk.

I will swing my arms and I will sing some song, or perhaps it is that I will humm.

I will genuinely feel a false sense of the benevolence at the heart of existence. And there will be no mysteries to solve.

And I will smile.

And OD, it will be all your fault.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Eat Me. Cageless. Date. Under My Skin. Tower of Song. Gradual.

--In Tawain, a man enters the cage of a lion and said, “Come bite me.”

The lion, given its nature, complies.


I’ve often thought that if you were willing to experience a hard death, then you’ve earned your suicide.

If you were willing to shoot an arrow straight up, for example, and then position yourself beneath it, arching your chest upward and centering your heart, it could be said that you’ve passed any test that should be required of the soon to be dead. If you’re willing to climb in the cage of the lion, embrace the bear, swim with the sharks, bless you on your journey to the Great Black. --Incidentally, I hate cages. A work of art to me is a cage with a broken door.

--Date night. Who is this girl? I hardly recognize her, more a name scrawled on a napkin than a face, more a voice on a phone than a body, more some vodka dream than a reality.

--We drink and walk from bar to bar and drink more.

She tells me the things that have happened to her and the things she has done and how she relates to the people that are important to her. She has the voice of a broadcaster. In fact, she has been a broadcaster.

She says, No more about me. Tell me about you. There’s nowhere to start. There’s nowhere to end.

She’s half Tai. She asks me to feel the muscles of her calves. She begins to do things in the bar that I do not expect her to do. We’ve gotten into some kind of game to see who frightens first. I do not know how this happened. I know that she will win.

Aggression in women does not scare me if I believe it comes from a place of hunger. I’m uncertain of what motivates her, though. She keeps saying, Looks are not important to me.

This is nothing I want to hear. I make a deal with myself finally that if I hear that from her one more time, I will excuse myself and go to some bar where I can drink alone. But she finally lets it go. Justintime.

The night passes. I can't tell if there is anything real to this or not.

--In the cold, beneath the street lamp, I seriously study her. I know she doesn’t want to be studied that way. She wants to be judged according to her bravado, the willingness of her tongue, the hard curve or her ass and the harder curve of her cheek. But I study her anyway. I cannot help it. I study her eyes. I try to see what of her is in there. I sense something beneath the clever of her and I want to see it.

I find nothing I can be certain of.

--The cd on the way home is a mix, something a girl made me, the last girl who had a real shot into me. The cd was her strategy to complete the seduction, not of me bodily but of me completely. It is supposed to read like the soundtrack of her life, like the reflection of her soul.

No girl is saying when she gives you a mixed cd: here is music I thought you’d like and wanted you to have.

What she says when she makes that mix is: associate these songs with me.

There is not a song on the cd I don’t like and I’m strong enough to listen to it without letting it become some memento of regret, some reminder of warm morning showers at her house in the country, of the feeling of comfort I get when I’ve allowed myself to put my soy milk in the refrigerator of a woman and shirt in her closet.

What I think when I think of her is that she was more full of half truths than any of the others.

And I know: she did not write these songs. I know these songs are not about her.

Her magic has failed.

--LC writes: You can stick your little pins in that voodoo doll/I’m very sorry, Babe, it doesn’t look like me at all.

--Driving past the club where the important ex works, the last love, I think: This is what you’ve traded her for. It was for nights like this. For weeks like this. For dinners on Thursday and drink dates on Friday and phone conversations deep into the night and all things like this you introduced a deep regret concerning those few you lost.

I think: You are becoming what they feared you were.
I think: Maybe it is not that you are becoming. Maybe it is that they were right.

--And I think: don’t worry about whether it is a worthy trade or not. That question is irrelevant. This is Vegas: when you put your money on the table it’s already bet, for better of for worse.

--I wake up too early in the morning. There is a word I am obsessively sounding out and spelling in clear white letters in my mind’s eye. Even when I come fully awake and begin to think about other things, I still hear and see the word, forming and reforming itself. SUBSTANTIATE.

--In this early morning I think about the ageold question: If a man lifts a baby bull every day and carries it round the barn, will he not be able to lift and carry it even when it is full grown? On what particular day does that strength break down? How can the bull grow enough in some twenty four hour period so that the day before it could be carried and now it cannot? And yet that must happen, for we know that the man will not be able to carry the full grown bull, nor even lift it.

What is gradual?

In my mind’s eye, I lift my son. I’ve not been with him a single day since he was one that he hasn’t ridden around on my shoulders. Will the day come when my arms fail me in that action? When my back is not prepared? Will it happen that he’ll feel too old to want to be carted around like that? What Meridian will divide that moment from all those that have gone before?

Sometimes I ask him how big he’ll be.
Big, he tells me.
Bigger than I am, I tell him.
(And Of purer heart and happier disposition, I promise myself.)

And I ask him what he’ll do when he is big.

He says he’ll carry me.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Perfect Witness

--I don’t jog. I run. As if away from something. But I tell myself it is toward something.

All these fallen steps.

All these lifted weights.

What are you doing?

--Can exercise be found in the wild animal world?

Does the Rhino try to build his stamina?

The chimp his physique?

--And those Ancient sculptures, did people make themselves look like that, or were those bodies imaged by the sculptors?

What save the crudest exercise equipment have they unearthed digging through the trashheaps and graveyards of people five thousand years dead?

--The burn of real exercise connects me to every similar moment.

The way the moments in which you think you are going to die are all exactly the same.

The way the moment in which you come has at its core an exact match to all the other times you’ve come.

The way in the face of death and orgasm you are reduced to justwhoyouare and justwhoyouhavealwaysbeen and jsutwhoyouwillalwaysbe, the way you become justyoursoul, neatly packaged and ready for transport or blackness.

Delivering seed to nothing or something or you to just the same.

--So I run. And sometimes after the second wind, when the burn takes over and the mind by necessity goes soft, I am lost to the now.

I am just stumbling off the mat after a match, fifteen years old, so fatigued, so empty, that when I allow myself to sit, I’ll not be able to stand again for half an hour; I’ll not be able to take the top off a bottle of Gatorade.

--We build these bodies not so that we will live longer or do our labors better or win our battles.

We’re not professional athletes. We’re not handtohandcombat soldiers. We’re not the builders of pyramids, the haulers of stone.

We are waiting for somebody to come along and sketch us.

We say:
What good is art without an audience?
What good this body without witness?

--Winning is not an addiction. It is a mandate.

After the match, you clasp the hand of the boy you’ve beaten and what you feel for him is genuine love because he has validated your superiority.

And at the bar, when the girls trace the lines on your belly with their fingernails while your friend stands by, his own hands folded on his own soft stomach, what you feel for him is that same love because he has acted as your foil.

And so on.

--It is easier to learn to accept loss young.

Those that are used to winning age without grace; they age viciously and bitterly, because it cannot always be so.

--You lift the weight up, you lower it down. You do it again. You stride. You stride. You will lift and you will run and you will lie with your back on the floor and you will tighten your gut and curl your spine and you will do it again and again.

You will have lifted a billion pounds. You will have run a million miles.

When you lift very hard, when you run very real, you will create a continuity.

All these moments of pain going numb will be connected, and they will link as well to all the other moments of false death, and that one and final moment of true death.

One can know you by drawing lines between those dots.

Therein is the framework of your sculpture.

If there is such a one that can connect them. If there is such a witness as that.

--CB writes: Believe in my inoccence, and I'll consider yours.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Welcome to My Nightmares. Lost, Loster, and Really Damn Lost. Let Me Carry that for You. The Thick Red Line. Sad Eyed Darwin. I Get Blasphemous.

--Last night, my dreams were nightmares and my nightmares were socially oriented:

There is in one the blond girl sharing a slow seduction with me who suddenly confesses that she is forty and suddenly looks it

My friend DG asking me to put the chain back on his bike even though I’m wearing a white dress shirt

Certain exs standing in a circle around me like pretty witches shaking their fingers and telling me I’d been warned

The girl I had dinner with last night laughing uncontrollably at the idea that sometimes I bathe instead of shower.

--Where are you JH, LK, RS?

Where are the women you were? And where is that me that was then and with you? Can we not go backwards? I'm not asking for a time traveler's immortality. I just want my memories validated.

I see in a rear view mirror in a bad dream a thin crack opening in the flesh of my cheekbone.

Can’t you fix that?
Won’t you find me?

--I compare the pros and cons of being single with the pros and cons of being bound to some girl; I make this comparison to determine which life is good.

What I discover after making the lists and thinking over them is that no life is good.

--We always watch the hole.

We always think about not what we have, but what we don’t.

--In that dream with the bicycle chain, everybody, all my friends, gather round. They are carrying things but don’t want them, or least not to carry them. They load them up in my arms, wrapped boxes, mostly, either gifts they have received or gifts they intend to give, though not to one like me. And I’m bitching because my shirt has got chain grease on it and because I don’t really want to carry the packages.

And the friends, they go on ahead, unburdened and laughing.

--This country divided. Where is the middle ground? Where is the gray?
Michael Moore on one side and Rush Limbaugh on the other, with their gangs of you-are- with-us-or-against-us-minded people.

It reminds me of when I lived in Beirut. Over there, I argued with simple minded people all the time about their simple minded misconceptions of the United States.

Over here I argue with simple minded people about their simple minded misconceptions of the Middle East.

And in both places I argued with people about their simple minded narrowly defined visions of their own countries.

This desire to see good and evil, to make sense of chaos by choosing the easiest answers. Nationalismpatriotismfanatacism…

--Just because he was right doesn’t mean Darwin wasn’t sad about what he learned concerning the nature of life on this planet.

--I think how odd it is that professors I know come down on Christian kids who reference Christianity in papers but that these same professors would never dream of coming down on a Native American student who referenced tribal origin of the Earth stories.

None of them should be referencing faith in a paper, or all of them should be allowed.

If one faith is sacred, every faith is sacred.

--It’s all mythology to me.

If there is a God, God is shattered.

This is not God’s world.

Or maybe God is running through the universe toward planetearth the way a parent who has suddenly sensed something wrong runs toward the back yard, wondering if the child has gotten too close to the swimming pool, feeling scared and angry and ready, when he or she finally arrives, to scoop up said child and smother it in benevolence.

If that’s true: God, hurry would you.

--Something a girl said to me recently, “You’ve got to see this movie. It’s a great movie. There’s a woman in there that reminds me of me.”

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Football. Baseball. It’s Goin’ Rain. Quiet Desperation? Bad Cops. Who Won the Election.

--A friend watches MNF with me.

Why is he [the player] using the telephone? she wants to know.
When a player scores a touchdown, I tell her, they allow him to call his parents.
Really? That’s wonderful.

And the innocence of her ability to believe my answer, to believe that players are encouraged to celebrate key moments with calls to family, tickles me.

--Says Keyshawn Johnson of female report Pam Oliver, who he accuses of misreporting a sideline situation, "I almost wanted to get on a plane, find where she is at, and sit her down and spank her with a ruler really." Naturally this is some big scandal. Why it should be is beyond me. Just ask McLintock.

Seriously, I’m not sure it was an awful or even that sexist thing to say. Take out the word “ruler” and it would be a little more questionable, but still, not a big deal.

Anyway, Pam came back with an equally well thought out retort. She promises that if Keyshawn ever tires to spank her, she'll "...punch him in the face." Glad all those years of broadcast school paid off. --Another sports scandal: a Red Sox players revealed a team ritual of drinking a shot of bourbon before all the last six games in the playoffs and world series.

Naturally, everybody is up in arms about this too.

And why?

They aren’t flying airplanes.

--Each morning when I wake up it sounds as if it is raining, and no matter how many times since I’ve moved to this apartment I realize that this is not true, I never remember that upon the first moment of awakening.

Perhaps it is the ceiling fan. Or the venting system outside my window.

Or maybe it is that I have a nihilistic frame of mind and am ever vigilant for the end of the rainbow covenant and the beginning of the final flood.

--I realize after my run that we don’t remember pain properly. We only know when we’re in it. When I put on my shoes, when I go out the door, it is impossible for me to really imagine how awful I’ll feel coming back through it.

No wonder it so hard to learn our lessons.

--There are the desperate moments. You’re aware of all your muscles. Your can feel your heart in all your chest. The package that you are will keep together on the outside, but what is happening within? What does it mean when you feel your blood rushing? When you hear your eyelids blink?

--Watched Black Rain. Good role for Douglas, and Andy Garcia decapitation scene is actually moving. One of my favorite not-so-good cop films.

Top five:
1. Year of the Dragon. Why this is not out on dvd, I have no idea.
2. To Live and Die in LA William J Peterson way before CSI.
3. Bad Lieutenant. Harvey Kietel’s penis gets more screen time than Ron Jermey’s usually averages, but it’s still an interesting movie.
4. Black Rain. Makes me want to cut off pink and offer as a tribute to somebody.
5. Dark Blue. The dialogue is off but the riot scenes are a trip down memory lane. Oh, nostalgia.

--I know who is going to win the election:
A man who couldn't care less about the Palestinians

and a man who thinks it says something about him that he can shoot birds out of the sky with a shotgun.

You've got to love the most recent South Park: giant douche or turd sandwhich...?